Saturday, May 31, 2008

CD Review: Crime of the Century

1) School
2) Bloody Well Right
3) Hide In Your Shell
4) Asylum
5) Dreamer
6) Rudy
7) If Everyone Was Listening
8) Crime Of The Century
This 1974 disc clarifies why Supertramp was one of the biggest bands of the 70s. Theirs was a progressive style, one unafraid of creativity. Simultaneously, their songs were melodic and accessible enough for the mainstream.
The album's opener, "School", begins with some bluesy harmonica, then Roger Hodgson's shaky vocals come in, backed by some mysterious guitar. It builds into a jam with a strong back beat and heavy strumming with the keyboards at the forefront. Then Rick Davies and Hodgson's vocals kick in over some horns. The beginning melody returns, but at a much higher volume, and the song ends with a crashing chord. Another of the album's more experimental moments is "Rudy", with its free-form piano intro and spacey effects filling the gaps in Davies' singing.
Then, we get a poppy track, "Bloody Well Right", which starts with some fantastic electric piano and guitar solos before Davies starts singing over another rocking beat. "Dreamer" is another song in this vein, based on an electric piano riff with a straighter rhythm. Things get a little experimental with some conversational vocals between Davies and Hodgson, but this song still manages to be the shortest on the disc.
Tracks like these set the precedent for the rest of the album: songs that are creative without getting too weird for the crowd. "Hide In Your Shell" is another electric-piano based rocker with a pop sound. "Asylum" sounds a little like Elton John, "Crime of the Century" like Billy Joel. "If Everyone Was Listening" talks of actors and jesters over a 70s piano groove.
Think of Supertramp as a more accessible Pink Floyd. Their music is just as technically sophisticated and creative as Floyd's, but their pop sensibility is more pronounced. It's easy to see why they hit it big in the 70s - they don't stand out too much among the other great 70s artists I've mentioned.
***** out of five

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